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A HERMIT IN THE HIMALAYAS
helped your material affairs to an extent which you can hardly
guess. But something went wrong with the magical ceremony which
I performed. I left out one of the essential precautions, either
through carelessness or forgetfulness. The result was that I could not
control the jinn any more. Now that it has failed owing to the
protection of your Master, the jinn has turned an evil attention
towards me. It declares that it will kill me before the next new moon.
I live in fear that I shall pass away from this world soon.'" The
Prince stops his narrative to catch his breath.
"Such was the weird story I heard from the fakir,9* continued
Prince Mussooree a minute later. "To me the whole thing seemed
too utterly fantastic. With my modem education I was sceptical
and could not credit his explanation. I preferrred to believe that
I had been the victim of an ordinary nightmare, But wait...."
"Pardon me, but arc you sure you had not told the fakir about
the experience before he attempted to explain it?"
The Prince is most emphatic.
"Not a single word. Not even to anyone else. The man knew
all about it before his arrival. It was astounding. But listen to the
sequel. I know that this will sound like a tale from the enchanted
days of the Arabian Nights, but you have had enough experience of
the Orient by now to know that these incredible marvels may have
been and perhaps still are possible,"
My companion pauses; a grave expression flits over his face.
"Very soon afterwards the fakir was attacked by that dread
disease of galloping consumption. Eighteen days later he was dead.
His end came exactly one day before the new moonójust as the jinn
Another slow-footed day passes. Another turn of this restless
rotating globe of ours. Another pleasant excursion with my Nepalesc
We descend a forest-covered gorge to a depth of a hundred and
fifty feet or so and then, holding to the tree-trunks, make a horizontal
deviation along a trail through the tangled undergrowth for some
We proceed along the path for about half a mile. Then we make
an abrupt turn to the left, and start a precipitous descent down the
thickly-wooded sides of a deep gorge. The trees are chiefly sombre
firs, with occasional clumps of sturdy oaks and a sprinkling of
flowering rhododendrons here and there. Our journey begins to
take on the colouring of a hasty flight from some wild beast, owing
to the sharp gradient affording us no firm foothold and compelling